With a provincial general election coming this fall, we get news that Premier Dalton McGuinty has cut a secret deal with the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU) giving 38,000 employees an additional one percent wage increase, which some are describing as a “secret” top up to OPSEU’s already scheduled wage increase of two per cent for 2012.
Apparently, the deal is detailed in letters from the Ministry of Government Services to OPSEU. In a letter dated Dec. 23, 2008, a government official says the one-per-cent increase will not be part of the collective agreement.
When the documents were entered at a hearing before the Ontario Labour Relations Board, revealing the “secret deal” with OPSEU, government lawyers argued to retain the secrecy around the unusual accord, telling Diane Gee, chairwoman of the hearing, that there would be “significant detrimental impact” on labour relations if confidential agreements were disclosed. Fortunately for those of us who believe in transparency in government actions, Ms. Gee disagreed, asserting that open proceedings are a cornerstone of Canada’s justice system.
The generosity of the deal—which is well above the annual inflation rate—flies in the face of the McGuinty government’s pronouncements favouring a voluntary two-year wage freeze for public sector workers who bargain collectively.
For how many more secret backroom deals like this are the Ontario taxpayers on the hook? According to the Globe and Mail,
“David Musyj, chief executive officer of Windsor Regional Hospital, wondered whether other settlements negotiated by the government also contain ‘side deals.’ He said the deal makes it difficult for him to continue preaching restraint at his hospital, where non-unionized workers’ pay has been frozen for five years.”
This is just one more of many examples of the McGuinty government telling voters one thing and secretly doing something quite different. We, I suppose, can expect this trend to accelerate in the run up to the Oct. 6 election.